|Use of bacteriophage in the treatment of experimental animal bacteremia from imipenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa|
Authors: Jing Wang, Bei Hu, Minchao Xu, Qun Yan, Shuangyou Liu, Xuhui Zhu, Ziyong Sun, Eddie Reed, Li Ding, Jianping Gong, Qingdi Q. Li, Junbo Hu
Department of Immunology, Tongji Medical College, Wuhan, P.R. China
The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains still remains a significant problem for antimicrobial chemotherapy in the clinic. Bacterial viruses (bacteriophages or phages) have been suggested to be used as alternative therapeutic agents for bacterial infections. However, the efficacy of phage therapy in treating drug-resistant infections in humans is uncertain. Therefore in the present study, we examined the effectiveness of phages in the treatment of imipenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (IMPR-Pa) infection in an experimental mouse model. Twenty-nine strains of phage were isolated from our hospital sewage, and phage ØA392 was representatively used for all testing because it has lytic activity against a wide range of clinical isolates of IMPR-Pa. We found that intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of one IMPR-Pa strain (3x107 CFU) caused bacteremia and all mice died within 24 h. A single i.p. inoculation of the phage strain (MOI ≥0.01) at up to 60 min after the bacterial challenge was sufficient to rescue 100% of the animals. This lifesaving effect coincided with the rapid appearance of ØA392 in the circulation (within 2 h after i.p. injection), which remained at substantially higher levels for up to 48 h until the bacteria were eradicated. However, the survival rates of the mice dropped to approximately 50% and 20% when the same dose of this purified phage preparation was administered at 180 min and 360 min, respectively, after IMPR-Pa infections. In addition, we demonstrated that the ability of this phage to rescue bacteremic animals was due to the functional capabilities of the phage and not to a non-specific immune effect. The protection from death occurred only in animals inoculated with bacteria-specific virulent phage strains. When the heat-inactivated phages were used, the survival rate of the infected mice was dramatically reduced to 20% or lower. Moreover, the levels of the antibody against the phage were not significantly changed at the time when the bacteremic animals were protected by the active phages. Finally, our observations revealed that the inoculation of the mice with high-doses of ØA392 alone produced no adverse effects attributable to the phage. These data indicate that phages can save animals from pernicious P. aeruginosa infections and suggest that phage therapy may be potentially used as a stand-alone therapy for patients with IMPR-Pa infections.